Welcome to Vancouver – my city, which I’ve grown more and more fond of over the years of exploring. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, you might be blissfully unaware of the Vancouverite pride and love that stems from just a touch of exploration in this bustling, usually-rainy-but-sometimes-sunny city.
My name is Alexa, and I’m a local Vancouver blogger. My bike has transformed how I experience my own city on a day-to-day basis and I want to share my idea of a dream tour of Vancouver – from breakfast to dinner – by bike! Don’t worry, I won’t just show you the most touristy, obvious spots in town; we’ll be exploring some of my favourite, eclectic restaurants and cafes, and everything in-between.
A MORNING IN VANCOUVER
Rise and shine. Waking up to sunshine in Vancouver means one thing for sure: it’s time to explore! So hop on your bikes and join me for a morning of fun, starting of course with a double cappuccino and much-needed energy.
Have coffee in Gastown: You’ve surely heard of the national historic site of Gastown, which is named after “Gassy” Jack, the area’s first saloon owner back in 1867. Here, you’ll find bustling Water Street which boasts many shops, restaurants, the Steam Clock, and my favourite cafe in the city, Milano Coffee Roasters. Grab a cappuccino and enjoy!
Do some shopping and exploring: A highly bikeable and walkable area, you’ll want to get the most of Gastown while you’re here, so take a moment to walk or bike along Water Street and stop in at some of the unique shops it offers. My favourite store is Oak + Fort, offering sophisticated yet simple clothes for men and women.
Take a peek at the city from one of its highest points: I’ve lived in Vancouver all my life, and it still thrills me to take a look at it from one of the highest view points, the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre located just outside Gastown. With 360 degree views including the North Shore Mountains, downtown core, and Gastown and the shipping port, you’ll have an intimate understanding of Vancouver from 553 feet up.
Ride through Coal Harbour towards Stanley Park: And since you’re already in the neighbourhood, you might as well enjoy one of the city’s nicest bike paths taking you past Waterfront and through Coal Harbour, where you’ll see my hotel recommendation for guests to Vancouver, the Fairmont Pacific Rim. This hotel offers a lobby lounge with live music every night, except Sunday.
AN AFTERNOON IN VANCOUVER
When afternoon rolls around, you’ll have a good idea of whether the rain clouds are coming in or not. If they still seem to be at bay, then grab your helmet and continue on.
Have brunch in the West End: If you continue following the same bike path, which will take you around the entire perimeter of Stanley Park if you don’t veer off like we’re going to do, you’ll end up in the family-friendly area of the West End. Here I highly recommend having brunch at Acacia Fillo Bar, a tiny usually unknown spot serving traditional Bulgarian dishes that will wow your taste buds.
Hang out at English Bay: Let your food digest for a little while and gear up for the next leg of the ride with a moment of relaxation at English Bay Beach – beautiful views, a slight breeze, and maybe even a little acoustic guitar if you’re lucky!
Take a beach-side ride to Kitsilano: One of my favourite bike paths in the city, you can ride with ease and an incredible view from English Bay all the way to Kitsilano, passing over Burrard Bridge, an architectural beauty built in 1932 offering dedicated bike lanes and some spectacular views.
Stop for a tire pump-up: Once you get over the bridge, you’ll find yourself in a neighbourhood called Kitsilano, another trendy, oceanside, family-oriented place that happens to be where our favourite bike shop is located. Stop at Liv Vancouver for a tire pump-up, some shopping, or even some recommendations from the knowledgeable staff.
AN EVENING IN VANCOUVER
Sunny evenings in Vancouver are so wonderful – you’ll want to be close to the water so that you can enjoy a nice sunset.
Hang out at Granville Island: Now it’s time for quintessential Vancouver: say hello to Granville Island! Arguably the most famous attraction in the city, Granville Island brings together all facets of everything characteristically Vancouver, from live musicians to fresh seafood to the performing arts and endless opportunities to pick-up locally made goods. I recommend you lock up your bike and spend ample time here exploring Granville Island Public Market and all the other gems this little island community has to offer.
Take a ride along the South False Creek Seawall: After your belly is stuffed, I recommend enjoying a leisurely ride along the South False Creek Seawall, which boasts a beautiful skyline view of downtown Vancouver, and which will take you right back to where you started in Gastown for a full circle ride.
Have dinner in Chinatown: For dinner, enjoy a bustling, eclectic new neighbourhood of Chinatown, where I recommend you visit a little place called Bestie. They serve up some delicious European delights (which you so well deserve after such a long ride)!
A full day in Vancouver by-bike is the easiest way to fall in love with Vancouver – whether you’re new to the city or have been here for years, you’ll suddenly discover all the varieties of neighbourhoods our Westcoast gem has to offer. The good news is, the biking opportunities are nearly endless!